mesmerism! presidential assassinations! circuses on fire!
Hello everyone, Six Zero here with another installment of:
SIX QUESTIONS WITH MGOJEN
Inspired by the official site’s “Two Minute Drill” series and TomVH’s famous Q&A segments with potential recruits, this weekly feature highlights some of the more famous personalities here at MGoBlog. Without pulling back the infamous veil of blog anonymity, we’ll get to know some of your favorite posters better and possibly shed some light on their definition of why it’s so darn Great, To Be, A Michigan Wolverine.
MGoBlog! A place where us Michigan men can swear and spit and burp and be the maize & blue hooligans we are, all without having to apologize for it to the women in our lives. However, it is not exclusively a brotherhood; Many women frequent the site as well, and knowingly put up with, if not partake in, the glory of our occasional immaturity, opinionated perspectives, and/or fart jokes. Of them all, certainly MGoJen is the most recognizable and likely the most infamous. I thought it
would be interesting to get a woman’s take on MGoBlog, and so you
can in this exclusive interview:
1. We all know the term and strive to prove others that we are all 'Michigan Men,' but you're proof that there is a feminine counterpart to the age-old model that Yost envisioned all those years ago. Since so many of us are utterly unfit to answer the question, tell us what it's like to be a woman who follows Michigan football.
It didn’t occur to me that it was so unique to be a chick who really loves Michigan football until people pointed it out to me. As I’ve mentioned several times before, most of my friends are guys, so I’ve never felt weird or out of place being around guys…in fact, I’m much more comfortable in a group of guys than girls. I think there are more similarities than differences between “Michigan Men” and “Michigan Women” than one would think. The most noticeable difference, I think, is that I get pretty irritated at girls who treat the Big House like it’s a photo shoot. You know who I’m talking about, too—the girls who show up 10 minutes into the first quarter, ask me to take 50 pictures of their girl group during the game as if I’m not paying attention and have nothing better to do than capture this amazing moment for them. These are the same girls that leave after said pictures have been taken or because it’s “too hot” or “too cold” or they’re “too hung over”. I don’t think everyone has to be a Michigan diehard, but I think if more chicks made an honest effort to understand and follow the game, they wouldn’t be so inclined to come for ten minutes/sell all of their tickets. Obviously this isn’t all chicks, but I would argue there are many who fall into this category—they’re missing out on an amazing experience.
Although you aren't the only non-male (alpha or otherwise) on the site, you clearly take the most heat for being 'the girl.' What's worse, fighting the stereotypical impression of "OMG, a girl that loves Michigan, I am in love" or "OMG, a girl that loves Michigan, get her out of our He-Man Woman Haters Club?"
Truthfully, sometimes I feel like I’m portrayed as the Elle Woods of MGoBlog, although I’m sure there are worse things. I think the most irritating thing about being “the girl” is the tendency of guys on the blog to presume things about me—I’m either really hot or really ugly, I go on the blog to meet men or that I’m for whatever reason promiscuous and am only into football because the players are soooo hot. At the end of the day it’s just the Internet and doesn’t really matter all that much, but I think there’s much more to me than what one can construe from my comments and posts. I think it’s perfectly acceptable and even exceptional that I can speak intelligently about both Troy Woolfolk and Tory Burch.
2. Hmm, I always thought of Chunkums as the Elle Woods of MGoBlog (KIDDING). I would think you must face an ongoing pressure to continually prove yourself to some of the more diehard followers among us. How do you convince the rest of us that you really do follow the team and aren't just in it for the eye candy known as Renaldo Sagesse?
I am most certainly not above admitting that I find certain players attractive (it occurred to me that I’m treading MGoCougar territory when I realized I was in first grade when Tate was born. Ummm…) I don’t think I’ll ever break any amazing insider news, and although I wish I had the steel trap memory that is seemingly required to become a Recruitnik, I don’t think that’s in the cards for me either. Even though I’m kind of insecure about my inability to diagram a Cover-2 defense, I think the fact that I share the most fundamental emotion with other MGoBloggers—a genuine, undying passion for all things Michigan—I’ll never need to prove my fandom with stats and scores. (One of my favorite things about the blog is that I learn so much about players, recruits and nuances of the game from people that know much, much more about these things than I ever will.)
I think we can all say that. And, unlike some of the more shady/sulky types on the blog, you seem to truly be a person who wears her heart on her sleeve/keyboard. For better or for worse, how is that received on MGoBlog?
I think that with me, for better or worse, what you see is what you get. I don’t type or post anything I wouldn’t say to you in person. I really tend to use <3s a lot when I type and text (shout out to the WLA for their epic MGoGwen post! I still have a friend that addresses all of his e-mails to me, “HEY GWEN! <3”) I really am a vegetarian who thinks eating meat is mean to animals, I really enjoy baking cookies for absolutely everyone and I truly love and believe in the city of Detroit—its resilience, its promise and its potential. I’m completely and overwhelmingly optimistic—almost to a fault—and am a very friendly and open person who is genuinely interested in people and their story. I think a lot of that gets misconstrued on MGoBlog as naivety, flirtation or general air headedness when it isn’t at all accurate and obviously not my intent. I’ve actually been through and seen a lot in life, and have come out on the other side…I think that’s why I am as positive as I am. That said, my offer to bake cookies for a future MGoTailgate still stands! (I perfected a chocolate chip (regular, not white) macadamia nut cookie recipe a few months ago. They are awesome.)
3. You seem to do a lot of (what I assume is work-related) travelling. How do you represent the University of Michigan on the road? Any interesting UM-related stories from your journeys?
Ah yes, travelling. It’s actually not my favorite thing in the entire world, but I’m definitely blessed in that I’ve gotten to experience some very cool cities. I will absolutely only travel in M gear—usually an MGoShirt or jersey.
I’m really friendly and talk to pretty much everyone (shocking, I know!) so it’s not uncommon for me to have conversations about Michigan with strangers that come up to me to comment on my M gear. Last fall when a colleague and I visited the National Museum of American History, a guy in an OSU shirt and hat who was chaperoning a group of children shouted, “Forcier sucks!” at me. (I was wearing a “May The Forcier Be With You” shirt.) A few weeks ago I was getting my stuff together after having gone through security in Philly when an older guy told me he loved my “The ability to destroy planets is insignificant…” shirt with Darth Vader in the middle. I replied, “Thanks! Go Blue!” but I don’t think he understood that my shirt was Michigan-related at all. He ignored my response and went on and on for about three minutes about how awesome Star Wars is and how those are movies from “[his] generation”. I politely agreed and went about my way.
Undoubtedly, my favorite travel story was not for work at all but for the 2007 Rose Bowl. My friends were flying in from different cities, so I flew in by myself and had a stopover in Dallas the evening of December 31st. Because I was on my way to the freakin’ Rose Bowl, I was “M’ed out” from head to toe and even had my game day face tattoos on. I had an hour to kill in the Dallas airport so I sat down in the waiting area outside my gate with a Diet Coke. Lo and behold, sitting a couple chairs down from me were none other than Jim Brandstatter and James Hall. I was really surprised to see them there! I was super nervous and excited, but decided I had to go up to them. Amidst my apprehension, this was the best I could come up with: “Aren’t you on Michigan Replay?” (Really? Of all the things Jim Brandstatter has accomplished I bring up Michigan Replay? Who says that? Haha!) He was super nice about it and said, “Well, why yes I am, young lady. Are you headed to the Rose Bowl?”
Jim Brandstatter was much more talkative and approachable than James Hall who remained relatively quiet and focused on his phone. They explained that they were in Dallas for the Lions game and were on their way to the Rose Bowl, too. I got a picture with them in front of our gate which is to this day up in my office—it’s of me in between James and Jim. Right before we boarded, Jim said he’d be happy to sign something for me. Neither of us had a pen or marker and we had to board, so I figured my Jim Brandstatter autograph opportunity had surely passed me by. Moments before takeoff, a flight attendant asked me what my name is and brought over a piece of paper someone wanted me to have. Sure enough, it was Jim Brandstatter’s boarding pass with, “To Jenny—GO BLUE!” and his autograph. That was the best flight ever.
4. Without divulging too much information, can you describe what you do for a living? And what do you like to do for fun on your own time?
I’m a clinical research coordinator at an urban health disparities research center. We run clinical trials and other research projects that focus on deconstructing, understanding and ultimately developing possible solutions to the comprehensive problems associated with urban health disparities. We approach these problems from a multi-faceted perspective that encompasses the implications of psychosocial, socioeconomic and environmental effects on health. While the work is often quite exigent, I also find it immensely rewarding. Working with the underserved has absolutely changed my life, and while the primary focus of my work is running trials and research projects, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes advocacy work that goes along with it. It’s difficult and at times completely emotionally draining (when one of my patients gets really sick or when I come across a situation that I truly cannot help, I still cry in my car on the way home), but when I get giant hugs and beautiful hand-made cards and phone calls on holidays from former participants, my heart swells. There’s no greater feeling in the world than knowing you were able to make a positive impact on someone’s life. I’m truly blessed to be able to do something I love so much.
I don’t have a ton of free time, but I love reading and have a book-buying problem (I have more books than I’ll ever realistically be able to read and still can’t stop buying them.) My favorite topics are urban poverty, the Civil Rights Movement and the history of Detroit. I love music and go to concerts with my friends whenever I get the chance. When my friends and I go out, there will undoubtedly be dancing and there may even be karaoke. Aside from all of that, the cardio kickboxing class at my local Lifetime is definitely my anger-management activity—it keeps me sane and centered.
Sane is good, and the fact that you need violent exercise to keep it intact is something most of us guys can probably appreciate. Describe the perfect meal.
The perfect meal—hmm. So I’ve been told several times that I eat like a kid. My family, boyfriend and I went to Easter Day brunch at the Gandy Dancer one year and I was inadvertently picking food from the “kids table”. (Who eats tator tots at the Gandy Dancer? This girl!) My boyfriend pointed this out to me and thought it was hilarious. I’m just not a quiche kinda girl and I’m not sure I’ll ever be. I’m totally at peace with that.
I can’t think of any one perfect meal at any one restaurant, but I can tell you what my favorite things are! I love fresh green bell peppers just cut up and plain (they’re amazing, I eat them daily!) The Jet’s Pizza version of cheesey breadsticks (Jet Bread!) is also awesome. I love fattoush salads from pretty much anywhere and there’s a better than even chance that at any given time, I have a Diet Coke with me. My favorite smoothie ever was called the Orange Shooter—we used to get them at the Café Connexion (sp?) in South Quad. The grilled cheese at the Redhawk Grille in Ann Arbor is the best ever.
5. Can you explain why you are a Michigan fan?
I guess the simple answer is that I’m a Michigan fan because I don’t know how not to be. It’s truly become part of my soul, and consequently one of the most important parts of my life. Unlike many if not most other diehards, I don’t have an epic story about how I went to my first game at age eleven or saw Desmond on TV and have been in love ever since. In fact, I actually disliked all things Michigan and only bought season tickets my sophomore year (the 2003 season) after my boyfriend forced me to. I didn’t even buy my first Michigan t-shirt until minutes before the first game of the ’03 season. (FTR, I currently have over 30 Michigan shirts the last time I checked. It’s obviously an issue but I seriously can’t stop buying them.) I didn’t understand why everyone was so…into it. After all, it was just a school, and Saturdays were for trips to Briarwood. (See? This is how I know people have a tremendous capacity for change!)
That season, I remember falling a little more in love with the whole experience with each game. Of course I didn’t at all understand football (embarrassing, I know) so I had to completely start from scratch. I learned the cheers and when to be loud and quiet (sorry for accidently cheering as loud as possible while we were on offense those first few games of the ’03 season L) and started picking up on the ins and outs of the game. Before I knew it, I fell in love with Braylon Edwards, Chris Perry and Jason Avant—not as in “OMG they’re sooo cute!” but as in, “Holy crap, how did Braylon just jump that high…and catch that ball…with one hand?” I was kind of in awe of the whole situation. And then came The Game. By the end of the season, I was totally in love with Michigan football—and the ’03 OSU game sealed the deal for me. While I was essentially a newcomer to the Maize and Blue, I rushed the field with my friends and several hundred other students and felt the biggest rush I had ever felt in my life. I knew then that I was part of something so much larger than myself—I was hooked. I went to the Rose Bowl a few weeks later with the boys and have never looked back.
We go to movies because we want to laugh, cry and feel the same thing 50 other people are feeling. We want to share that with them. I think we go to Michigan football games for the same reason—to share that experience with 109,900 people. Moreover, I think on some level this is what makes MGoBlog so amazing and such an important part of our lives (for those of us who are obviously addicted.) My friends and I drove to Champaign/Chicago for the Illinois game last fall and I was so upset, so angry after that loss that I refused to go out with the boys later that night. I sat in our super fancy (and super cheap, Priceline FTW!) hotel suite with my laptop, a 40 of Bud Light and carryout from The Cheesecake Factory and read MGoBlog. I cried and screamed and dissected the game with my diehard friends during the long drive from Champaign to Chicago, but at the end of the day found this ridiculous amount of comfort/solace in kitten pictures and threads about what everyone was drinking/eating to forget about what just happened. (I recall it being a strange combination of hard whiskey and Halloween candy.) I think Michigan Football and MGoBlog could very well be studies in human nature. We’re all much more alike than we are different, and being able to post something and have thirty people say, “Yeah dude, I know exactly what that’s like…” is really, really comforting in a world that is anything but stable.
6. Dude. Finally, the staple last question-- who's your all-time favorite Wolverine?
While I have adored many, my Wolverine has been and will always be #20, Mike Hart. I fell in love with how hard he played, how much he cared and how crucial his presence was to the spirit of the team. He ran so hard on every down, even when he was battling injury. I also love that he was never afraid to tell everyone exactly what was on his mind, even when it made people uncomfortable. So there’s a bit of a story behind this in that my whole adoring Mike Hart bit came full circle about a month ago at Braylon’s charity hoops game. My love for Mike Hart was no secret while I was still in school—I absolutely adored him. The big joke among my friends was that everyone—I mean EVERYONE seemed to run into Mike Hart at random places—the IM building, on State Street, at some party, etc.,—but I never spotted him once. I got texts from my friends at least twice a week about a Mike Hart sighting. I’ll never forget when I got a text one early morning from my brother (then a Michigan Sophomore) that he was at a cheerleader party with Mike Hart. I was less than sober and to make a long story short, never made it to meet him. So I graduated in ’06 and still never got my chance to meet Mike Hart. My brother bought me an authentic Nike #20 away jersey for Christmas one year, and I’ve had that hanging in my bedroom (along with a framed poster of the Michigan Daily cover from November 24th, 2003 with the headline, “A Rose For ‘U’”, among other things) ever since.
Fast forward to Braylon’s charity hoops game—when I found out Mike Hart was confirmed to be there, I totally freaked out. A couple things came up that Saturday and I actually didn’t think I would be able to make it to the game. At the very last minute I ended up going with one of my friends. My friend made me bring my #20 jersey even though I had never worn it. At half time, I literally walked around the court to Mike Hart’s side (he was a coach) as he was talking to fans hanging out on that side of the court. I waited until he was free, and when he turned to me and said, “Hey, how ya’ doin’?” I thought I was going to burst out crying. I played it totally cool (and still have no idea how I maintained my composure.) I literally said, “OH MY GOD YOU’RE MIKE HART!” And he smiled and said, “Yes I am, what’s your name?” I shook his hand and said, “You’re my favorite Wolverine OF ALL TIME!” He kind of chuckled and asked, “Really?” with this weird, kind of surprised look on his face. He was so humble. I said, “I have to hug you!” so I hugged him, and he was totally cool about it. I thanked him for being “the most amazing player ever” and I also specifically thanked him for the infamous Little Brother meme. I told him we’re going to come back this year and prove once again why State’s our little brother. He agreed, smiled and asked me if I wanted him to sign my jersey. I told him I didn’t have a marker, so he turned to the people gathered around and asked for one. Some kid only had a silver one and he wanted a black one, so MH literally went around asking who had a black marker. I tried for years to meet him, and all of a sudden Mike Hart was searching for a marker to sign my jersey. He signed it on the front in the middle of the “0” in 20. That was one of the best moments of my entire life. The now autographed #20 Nike authentic jersey is back to hanging in my room; full circle indeed. <3
Imagine, gentlemen, that you loved food (yes, big stretch, I’m sure), and you also loved cooking. Perhaps you loved it enough to take a class to become better, or perhaps to learn tips and tricks from other chefs, or just because you liked the whole pasttime of cooking and wanted to be a part of it.
So you get to the class, and of course it’s populated entirely with women. Yes, the eighth-grade pervert part of your brain suddenly cackles with glee—but before you can cycle through your best lines, you realize that they’re all looking at you. They’re sizing you up, some of them with an unfairly premature look of contempt. They’re judging you.
And pretty much all of them agree that you know absolutely nothing about the culinary arts.
Over the next few classes, you get mixed responses from the women of your cooking class. Some of them openly want you to leave, some of them straight out ignore you like the plague, and a few of them seem too unfriendly, probably because they just desperately need a man—any man. Either way, you quickly learn that YOU are the outsider. This is their place, and you are only allowed here by their lukewarm grace. If you are to stay, it is implied and generally understood that it will be according to their terms.
As the course progresses, you find your place, knowing who to avoid and who to REALLY avoid, the ones that think you’re only here to spread your seed and that any man who can cook would automatically love a woman like her. But you do enjoy the cooking, and you make some friends, and you tolerate all of their jokes and jabs. You let them call you the caveman with the back hair. You let them refer to you as the one with the testicles. You then listen to them talk for hours on end about testicles, all in your company and without any concern about your feelings, or the fact that you’re trying to make meatballs the whole time.
And no matter how well your spaghetti turns out, you find yourself incessantly having to prove your merits again and again.
In other words… Dude, girls read this blog too.
They don’t want to paint the site pink and talk about Tate’s butt—they just want to be treated with a certain amount of respect. You don’t have to explain every facet of the game to them, you don’t have to defend their honor, and you shouldn’t assume that because they’re into Michigan football that they’ll be into you.
You also don’t have to apologize for yourself. They should know what they’re getting themselves into when they sign up for this. This IS a brotherhood, a boys club by nature, but the blog-- a football blog for football fans-- is welcome for one and all. Those who come aboard must understand and accept it for what it is, and if they find it offensive, they are also welcome to leave. If they can put up with our hooliganism, then they should be treated as equals.
Unless they’re trolls. Then we should unleash Barwis-level pain on them without mercy. I think that goes without saying.
Only a few more weeks left before MGoProfile breaks for the season. I’ll see you all next week for another edition!
The players are working hard. The summer is growing old. There's a slight scent in the air, one of leaves and cider, and of change. You find yourself tempted, to daydream of tailgates, of afternoons in front of your television, and of the confines of the hallowed stadium itself. You find yourself dreaming of football.
And your wardrobe seems suddenly... unworthy.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct pleasure to formally present the
MGoShirt 2010 Season Line, as designed by yours truly and produced exclusively
by Underground Printing in conjunction with our very own MGoBlog.
As an MGoBlog exclusive, we’ll be officially premiering a series of shirts every Wednesday, allowing all of you maize and blue faithful to get the very first glimpse of these new designs. And, conveniently enough, the very same shirts will then be available for purchase at the MGoStore.
So enough with the sales pitch—let’s get to the shirts!
Forget the ScanTron sheets, forget all of your Calculus tutoring sessions… this is sure to be the most important question that should be in every test on campus this fall. Who’s going to start? Here’s your chance to identify your UM quarterback partisanship—feel free to take a Sharpie to the shirt and check the box of your preferred player under center.
DESIGNER INSIDER: I must admit that I can’t really claim this idea as my own, but I enjoyed running with it. It’s worth noting that the last player reference was literally created by banging haphazardly on the keyboard with the back of my hand. Good times!
The new hero on the defensive line, young Craig is sure to be a force to be reckoned with on the outside this year. One of the things I’m looking forward to the most this season is watching that #88 break through the lines and wreak havoc on Big Ten backfields this year. This shirt was simply a no-brainer, and I’d probably have been neg-banged to Iowa City if we didn’t have a Death Roh shirt this year.
DESIGNER INSIDER: Two inside tidbits worth revealing: The typeface of this shirt is literally modeled after the “EVIL DEAD” movie wordmarks, rather fitting. And, the skull itself is modeled after the very same head bone as seen in the dotted eye of the “Goonies” mark as well. As for the eyebrows, that’s an absolute original.
Okay Big Will… you know we’re expecting big things from you when you get your own T-shirt. Pimpin’ your own killer MGoShirt carries a certain degree of clout, and we feel that you’re capable of carrying the load. I’d like to find any other D-1 team that boasts its own Thor.
DESIGNER INSIDER: Thor, Bitches, Thor. Do we need to say anything more? I originally played with no cape, but in my opinion it just seals the deal.
Like the shirts? Not big on waiting? Well, you’re in luck-- these designs are on on the MGoStore. Moving forward, the MGoShirt Alert will appear every Wednesday, and the plan is that the shirts featured on subsequent days will be available for purchase the very same day. Instant MGoGratification, so to speak. Personally, I’m really excited about finally unveiling them—this is a true sign that the SEASON IS ABOUT TO BEGIN!!
Everyone's a little bitter about Ed Davis committing to MSU, which is fine. This isn't one of those, "I didn't want him anyway" posts, because the coaches don't care who we want and they did want him. This is just more of a "hey we have other options, so don't worry" post.
A recruit that hasn't been mentioned much is Austin Traylor out of Columbus, Ohio. Before you start groaning about where he's from, he doesn't have an OSU offer, and they have plenty of defensive ends.
Traylor is a 4 star on Rivals, and the 9th best weakside defensive end. He's stayed relatively quiet, and hasn't updated much about where he's at. He's always maintained that Michigan is in it for him, and he did the same when I spoke with him today.
Michigan is in it, yeah. They say they want me for defensive end, or outside linebacker. I haven't narrowed my list down yet, but I'll take all my official visits, and maybe some unofficial ones too, then make my choice.
Traylor is 6-foot-4, and only 210-pounds, which is what he told me he weighs today. Oddly enough, he's roughly the same size as Davis. A little light for a defensive end, and he actually lines up as a tight end on offense, too. It sounds like he might be better suited for outside linebacker.
The other offers Austin holds are Arizona, Boston College, Cincinnati, MSU, NC State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin among others. Like I said, he's been quiet, but we will know more in a few days.
I'm going to sit down these next two days and figure out my list. I'll be able to tell you what it is by Saturday. I'll have everything narrowed down by then.
Considering the fact that he knows I write for a Michigan site, and he's going to tell me his list, that's usually a good sign that Michigan will be somewhere on that list. It's not a guarantee, but it's a good sign nonetheless.
Traylor seems to be a good option at the outside linebacker spot, and don't forget about Kris Frost, who could most likely end up on defense, as well. With the commitment from MLB Kellen Jones, if we could land Traylor and Frost, we would be in pretty good shape.
Large flurry of relevant diaries lead me to delay this one. Only 2 canto's left after this one…
In the loosely adapted ways of Dante, I present to you the tenth canto of Formerly's Football Inferno. I promise nothing when it comes to grammar, punctuation, logical plots, or anything that normally goes into story writing.
For those of you unfamiliar, Dante walks through each region of hell to learn the sins and punishment by talking to those souls trapped. In this circle of Dante's version, those who would commit violence are punished. The murderers, bandits, those that would commit suicide, blasphemers, and sodomites were all tormented in three separate areas. Murderers were submerged into a boiling river of blood, suicide cases were reincarnated into bleeding trees picked to death by harpies, and the blasphemers and sodomites were destined to wander a desert of flames as fire rained from the sky.
The walk from the 6th to 7th ring of hell was totally agony. The gods were also fans of the USMNT. So while watching a 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup game, they discovered the vuvuzela. That damn horn blared through hell for weeks. I'm still deaf. Michigan must never go bowl-less again. They must never lose to Ohio State ever again. The punishment is overkill, even for those in hell.
As we descended into the 7th ring, we were met by it's guardian, the Penn State Nittany Lion. As we went to pass him, he jumped in front of us and began to mumble and jump around. I turned to Davy and asked, "what's his problem?"
"He's trying to scare you into turning back."
"This is supposed to be scary? He's like a teddy bear with a scarf. Jumping around with arms raised is supposed to be intimidating?" I ask as the Lion hangs in head that he'd yet again failed to put fear in to a Michigan fan, just like his highly rated teams that have failed again and again in Ann Arbor.
"He is a pretty weak mascot. I'll give you that, but he's also going to be our guide through this realm," replied Crockett. "Now you, Cowardly Lion—"
The lion interrupted with a few mumbles. "Oh, right, Nittany Lion. Lead us through this circle, the circle of Violence against the program."
The lion then waved his hands in a "come this way" fashion and the Duke and I followed along the top of a ridge. After a brief walk, we came to point above a valley below us. In the valley were hundreds of Michigan fans wearing maize. On a ridge below us sat centaurs with great bows, firing flaming arrows down on to the fans below. As I stopped and watched, Crockett noticed my interest.
"Those are the fans that have sold their tickets to opposing teams' fans. This sin has lead them to lead their life standing in the crowd they can never escape. On top of that, the one team who never buys tickets, will forever rain arrows down on them."
"What team are the Centaurs?" I ask.
"Indiana are the Hoosiers. Why on earth are there centaurs down there?"
"What did you think a Hoosier was?"
"Good point. But centaurs?"
"Back when Bob Knight was coaching, he had this crazy theory that running horses in basketball might have a more sinister purpose. He, being the most influential person on campus at the time, convinced the medical school to merge his players into half man, half horse creatures that would have the speed and stamina to destroy teams on the court."
The Nittany Lion mumbled and Crockett laughed, "Yeah, never could get those flesh eating corn monsters to work. That Bob Knight was a crazy fella."
"You've got to be kidding me," I respond dryly.
"Nope. The kids didn't last long. As soon as they died, they became the perfect fit to fill this role in hell."
After sitting there a while, the centaurs caught sight of us and began to divert some of their arrows upward. Pulling out his six shooter, Crockett began to fire down on the centaurs to provide cover as the Lion and I moved on.
As we fled, Davy fell out of range as the Lion urged us forward. At a fork in the road, I tried to insist that we wait up for Davy. The Lion mumbled and pulled me along. With Crockett being familiar with hell, I figured he'd catch up, and what harm could come from following the Lion. He's so cute and couldn't possibly do me harm. Right?
As we pushed to the left at the fork, we came upon another valley, this one composed of several barren, black trees. The Lion directed me into the forest, peering ever so suspiciously at the darkness above us. Something was up.
As we reached the trees, it was clear that names were carved into them. While some names had faded out, some were still freshly carved. One of those, a particularly tall tree, the name of Epke UDoh was written. Interested, I went up to touch the engraving. Upon touching the engraving, the whole tree flinched.
"Who goes there? Is it another one you of you damn harpies?" came a voice from within the tree.
"No, it is I, formerlyanonymous, a Michigan fan."
"Oh, good. I thought one of those damn harpies came back to bite at me."
"Who are you?"
"I am Epke Udoh. Like all of the other trees in this area, I'm the soul of a Michigan player who quit a Michigan team or transferred to another school."
"Huh. That sucks."
"You have no idea. What are you doing down here?"
"The Nittany Lion… hey, where'd he go?"
"That treacherous Lion has lead you into a trap. He despises Michigan fans, and he's lead you to the harpy feeding ground," explained Udoh. And with that, the swoop of wings up above began to become audible. A dark creature dove down and Udoh, ever defensive, swatted the harpy down to the ground like a blocked basketball.
The harpy squealed, and arose. This harpy was quite strange. It looked like a crack whore who had grown wings. As it lifted up, it became clear, this was a woman who was once attractive, but as her MSU shirt alluded, she spent 4 years at Michigan State, losing all her beauty. She was now a broken woman, stupid, ugly, and unable to shut her mouth.
The harpy, squawking loudly, made it's advances at me. Retreating under the protective branches of Udoh, I hoped to get the help from his tremendous reach. I was lucky that his longest branches were able to keep the harpy at bay just long enough for Crockett to arrive, guns blazing. The harpy didn't last long with the tree and Crockett firing. After a brief few seconds, it scurried away into the darkness.
"Thank you, Epke. Even if you chose a crappy, Christian school over Michigan, I'll always be a fan of yours."
"I appreciate it formerlyanonymous. As for you Mr. Wayne, would you mind signing my bark? It's a tremendous opportunity to meet an accomplished actor like yourself!"
Bang bang bang. "Take that you filthy animal. It's Davy Crockett."
"Dammit, that hurt!" yelled Udoh.
"Serves you right to call me by some other guy's name!" exclaimed Crockett. "Alright boy, you ready to get back on track. I caught up to that damn Lion on the way back up to the 6th level. Beat the tar outta him, and if it wasn't for me already having this kick ass coon skin hat, I'd be wearing something new by now."
With that, Crockett lead us away from Udoh. As we climbed back up the ridge, we could see from a far that the harpy who fled earlier had returned to Epke with several of her friends. Udoh was no match for the flock. He fought off several, but the final four Spartan harpies ripped him to pieces.
After reaching the fork in the road, this time Crockett lead us down the right path. This ridge lead us to yet another valley. In this one, we found a large desert. In this desert were found only a hand full of men. As they crossed this desert, the sand would burst up in flames with every step they took.
After one of their yells, I asked Davy, "Who are these people?"
"These are the sportswriters that turn against Michigan in order to better themselves. They proverbially bit the hand that feeds. For their Jihad against the program, they were banished to the deserts where they are set ablaze. That one way over there, that's the soul of Rosenberg. He has a special punishment. Not only does he walk this desert, but occasionally dolphins emerge from the sand and punch him with their tails."
"So you're saying, in Soviet hell, dolphin punch you?" I ask.
"This isn't Soviet hell. This is Michigan hell. Where the hell did that come from?"
"You don't get the internet do you?"
"No, we don't take kindly to communist around here."
"Right," I say sarcastically.
Davy went on, "But anyway, as you can see over there, writers from the now defunct Ann Arbor Chronicle lay in the desert over there. Yonder, you'll see the Detroit News writers sitting in that expanse. And lastly, you see the writers from the Detroit Free Press wandering in groups like the sodomites they are."
"I know, funny word, right?" the Duke says as he laughs. "Now let's get moving. We've but just 2 circles of hell left and the gods are definitely in our favor. Michigan has won 4 in a row to start this season. We shall travel quickly with them doing well."
And we were off.
Just got back from Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago ... a fan's take on things (just edited and added photos)
My buddy and I arrived at the hotel about an hour before the pre-luncheon player and coach signature sessions.
While we were wondering around killing time, we walked by a ball room where all the coaches and players were at tables being interviewed by the media. There was no one at the door at that moment (to check for a media badge), so we just strolled in. We were wearing ties and did not seem to attract any attention, so we walked about and listened in to various interviews. It was the first time I was able to see most of the Big Ten coaches and other non-Michigan players up close. I was especially excited to see JoPa, who had a nice big audience at his table.
We didn't stay long and headed off to get in line at the fan area. While in line, we noticed many of the fans with BigTen Footballs (had all 11 school logos on them) to get signatures. Seemed like a great idea to have players and coaches to all just sign one ball. Stepped out of line and went and bought a football and a mini Michiganhelmet.
Once in the team booth area, there was a stage where the BigTen Network was filming live ... they were bringing up the coaches one and two at a time for a few words. From where we were standing, we could not hear what was being said. When the coaches were done, they went to their team booths, met up with the players and met with the fans.
I think there were at least 500 people standing in various team lines. My goal was to get all 11 coaches to sign my new football ... I got 8 before time ran out. JoPa was not available for autographs, and someone said he typically was not for this event in the past.
Highlights from meeting the coaches and players:
- All the coaches were very nice, with the exception of Dantonio ... he seemed aggravated and refused to sign my ball on the way to his booth. Even in the luncheon speech Dantonio was the least outwardly positive (had a frown even when saying good things about his team).
- The most positive were RichRod, Fitzgerald, and I am sorry to say Tressel.
- I was surprised at how chummy the coaches were with each other. They seemed to gravitate to one another during the transitions from one place to another ... they were patting each other on the back and seemed to enjoy each other's company.
- The Michiganboys were great ... Troy, Mark, and Stephen were all joking with each other and having a great time.
- Ben Chappell (IU QB) went out of his way to make conversation, and was impressed with his presence.
After the sig session was over, all the players got on stage for a photo, followed by the coaches. Then at 11:30we all went into the auditorium for lunch.
Rough count was 150 or so tables with 10-12 guests at each. The room was huge. All the players and coaches were introduced and sat along one wall. There were many video screens so everyone could see what was going on.
Rece Davis was the host, he was great ... he had some great jokes and did a few impersonations between speakers. All the Big Ten coaches spoke, JoPa, was the clear favorite ... he really warmed up the room. I took a video of RichRod and JoPa that I will post later. Rich's speech was good, but nothing new. Fitzgerald was the best public speaker.
Rece said in his opening that it would not surprise him to see Kelly (ND) and Schiano (Rutgers) here next year ... but that seemed tongue in cheek.
We also heard from the Big Ten commissioner, and a few others. A Purdue player spoke on behalf of the athletes, and he did very well all things considered.
They did a fun thing at the end ... all the QBs went in the center of the room and tossed footballs to table guest with winning door prize ticket numbers ... some where real deep balls! One guy got hit in the face (but he was ok), and the Minnesota QB whiffed 3 times in a row ... the ball just fell out of his hands ... then he overthrew his table. The biggest door prize was two tickets to Rose Bowl with round-trip airfare and a stay at the Ritz.
For those that want all the details, we had salad, and a filet and chicken cutlet lunch with a slice of cheesecake to top it off.
There were 17 Michigantables and we all were given UofM Adidas visors and a block M lapel pin. The Iowafan base was the most vocal.
All in all, it was a great event. I would recommend others to attend if you have the opportunity in future years.
You can see Troy and Moundros close up in middle row at the end (see M pin)
See Rece there ... he one to left of the Red Jacket Rose Bowl guy. RichRod was third from left.
After conference, that is Tressel waiting for his ride I suppose (tan suit with back turned) ... he was just reading his Blackberry for a few minutes all by himself ... no handlers even. Seemed lonely.
Enjoy the first - and only - time you're going to get a full press conference transcript from me. Trust me people, I'm representing the content of the interview accurately, while keeping only the relevant stuff. Presenting it in this form doesn't do you any better, and it's an enormous pain in my ass.
You see my daughter is… is… asked me to start teaching her football. So I don't know if her future goal is to be a sideline reporter, or the next Angelique, I don't know what she wants to be but uh, she's (inaudible).
Chengelis: What did you mean when you said you were the coach who's the most anxious to coach this year.
Well I think… you know, probably the best times as a coach is when you get on the practice field. Uh, maybe even mores than the games because that's when you're around, it's just you, the coaches, and the players, and you get to teach and watch them progress and learn, and when you get on the field there's none of that other stuff, if you know what I mean. So I'm probably as excited as I've been in a long time to just get to practice.
Snyder: You talked in the spring, a lot of your comments about Tate were about academics or maturity and stuff. What's your feeling on that at this point?
I don't know; we'll find out at the end of the week. I'm hoping that everybody - they grow and mature, not just on the field but off the field as well. You know, until we're allowed to do things with them you really don't know. I'm anxious to see how Tate responds to that. I know he's getting a challenge and I talked yo him this spring about this: "You're getting a challenge from Denard, you're getting a challenge from Devin, and if you're a true competitor we'll see how you respond." That challenge will continue in August.
Snyder: You said you had the seniors over. What did they say about, you know, him and his maturity?
We really didn't talk about individual players. They came over, some of the guys would say "hey this guy looks great" or "hey this guy looks great" but they more or less, they talked about themselves, and some of the things they want to do, some of the things they want to do in camp. And they seemed… they gave some great ideas, and I think - we've always met, I've always met with the seniors a few times a year. But I started earlier, and I'm gonna meet again a couple times. Probably, you know, once every 2 or 3 days in camp, just to get their input. And Im really excited about that (inaudible 1:58)
Rothstein: You said last year at this thing that if you didn't get to a bowl you'd be ticked. Where are you this year, what do you feel? Is there pressure more, maybe?
I don't know if you can put - again, this sounds like coachspeak - I don't know if you can put more pressure than you do on yourself anyway. I mean, you go into every ballgame, every season with a certain amount of pressure to win every game. Is there heightened pressure because we've done poorly the last two years? Externally, you may think so, but internally there can't be no more than we've already done. It's not like we're going "ok, first year we've got excuses, second year got…" nah, we fully expect our guys to compete. We always set a goal to compete for the Big Ten championship. Now I don't know if we're good enough yet, or if we're gonna deserve to win it. I would think that's gonna be our goal and expectation every year.
[?] You said the team's gotten closer from the adversity. How have you seen this, is it a surprise to you?
Well I think, no it's not a surprise, but I think young folks are that way. I think any time adversity strikes - and it can strike at various points - it usually will band your young group together more often than it tears them apart. I've seen that get our guys closer, talking to our senior class. I'll be able to judge through camp. I mean, they'll face adversity in camp, all teams do. You know, it's hot, they're tired, whatever, and they've gotta push through practice, and I think this team will be able to battle through that because of what they've been through before.
Borton: Is there any news about guys that won't be able to start, uh, fall camp. Because of injuries or… anything? [obvious Shaw leading question #1]
No, I don't, uh, and I don't know. I think we're pretty good, health-wise, talking to the trainers. I think Will Heinenger's the only one that, uh, that had an injury in the spring that won't be able to perform in camp. I don't have any concerns health-wise.
[?] There is a couple theories about if Michigan and Ohio State should be in the same division. Any theories on how that might break out?
Isn't that interesting?I think you guys know as much as I do. How this all is going to shake out. Is it geographically? Is it competitively? Is it history and tradition? I think, uh, we have a lot of smart people in our league, and they'll be able to figure out how to balance it out fairly and competitively, but still be able to keep your tradition alive. Because it may be where, uh, an institution can pick their two rivalry games that they wanna play every year. Whether in your division or the other division, who knows. I have not put - and this is an obvious tangent - I have not put one thought into that. Because right now I don't care. You know, I care that we play Ohio State every year, and I think fans care that we play Michigan State every year, but that probably gonna happen. I'm just worried about getting a first down against UConn right now.
[?] The question is the possibility of playing them twice a year, because, uh…
Yeah, that'd be… I'm sure our fans would be pretty excited. If you won it the first time you may think "well, I don't wanna play it the second time." I think Michigan loves to play against Ohio State and Ohio State loves to play against Michigan.
That would not diminish the rivalry in your eyes?
I don't think so.
Birkett: How about playing them on back-to-back weeks? I don't know if that would be a tough (inaudible).
I think it would sell out if you played three times a week, in Ann Arbor, Columbus, or Chicago. I don't think there would be any problem with that game selling out.
[?] How important is it to you that they play the last game?
You know, I'm just giving my opinion, but the last game, traditionally, has been terrific. I think that's, you know, I think you prefer that, but if you didn't, and say you had to play 'em earlier or something… as long as you're playing 'em. But I would prefer, again this is just myself, but I would prefer to play them at the end, just from a tradition standpoint.
Chengelis: Can you talk about the running back situation? Vincent Smith is back… [obvious Shaw leading question #2]
I believe Vincent is, talking to - again, talking to our training staff - should be 100% for camp, uh, and healthy, which is key for us there. And then, Mike Cox had a really good spring, he's a guy that we're really looking forward to progress, and Fitz Toussaint had a really good spring, he was injured last year. Those three in particular, we thought… uh… you know, should be guys that'll lead the charge for us.
Balas[?] What is Michael Shaw's eligibility status? [overt Shaw question]
Well we're still waiting on some - we don't comment on our guys' academically, and they still have two weeks of summer school left. Uh, which for some of our players, uh, we'll keep in touch with them.
Rothstein: Are you surprised with Vincent being able to come back as quickly as he has? Sometimes with these ACLs...
Not with the medical technology that's available these days, and the science-y part of it. Before ACL would be 10-12 months. Now - you have to do the rehab - now they can come back quicker.
Chengelis: With two quarterbacks - I know it's a really - could you see yourself shuffling them in and out, in and out during a game?
Not so much, Angelique, shuffling in and out, because you do want that - if they're on a roll, and in a rhythm, you don't wanna take a guy out. If he's hot, you let him stay hot. Certainly, I don't - I'm not opposed to playing two. Last year, we started in with maybe three in the thought process. But I wouldn't be opposed to playing two. Our biggest key is that they play better and more consistently. The biggest thing for us is just taking care of the ball. Taking care of the ball, executing the offense, and you know, if they can extend a play or make a play within the framework, they can do it.
You said up there that there were things you regretted from last season. Is there anything that really sticks out?
There's a number of things. You can go back after every game and search calls. I think it was a fair question, but I never really thought about going for two [against Michigan State]. If I'd known the end result would be what it was, I'd do it all over again, but uh, there's plays you call you would likke to take back, but after reviewing the film, after every game the coaches're like "gosh, I could have called this or called that." You know, you can play that "what if" game all you want. I don't think it does you any good other than learning. And we always learn. Always think we have to do that.
Can you learn, maybe, in the summer from that?
Well, you know, not one big thing, but I can tell you this, and I told the seinors this. I said the first year, with a team is a little bit tougher because as coaches you don't know your players as well, even though you watch them on film and all that. You know, you have to kinda ll, you don't learn their strengths and weaknesses as well as you would the second year. Same thing's true for the third year. The more you're around your guys, you know what makes them tick, what motivates them, what their strengths and weaknesses are. You try to find that out in 15 practices in the spring, and 29 in August, but… you know, that's not always the case.
[uh…] Let's say Denard wins the starting quarterback. Could you move Tate to another area on the field or is he your backup quarterback?
Tate's a quarterback. Denard could play other positions and we fully prepared him "hey listen, if you're not the starting quarterback, I don't want you standing next to me 70% of the time on the sidelines. Once you learn quarterback, you'll learn the other skill positions." But, you know, he's battling for the starting quarterback job, so he's not played anything else, and I don't think he'll play anything else in camp. Because he's trying to be #1, and I think he's right there.
[Snyder] Not having to play too much quarterback in the games… can that be simulated enough between spring, and fall?
Well, the one thing you can't - it's hard to simulate - is when you go live. And in the spring, they were live the whole time except the spring game, and I thought that's one reason our spring game wasn't as good as I'd like, because we had them just getting tagged. I think it's better for their learning purposes when they're live. I don't want to go live in August though, because you don't want to be (inaudible) in camp. In August, I don't think we're gonna make them go live. But I think we saw enough in the spring of them being live in eight practices or so, and really let them practice.
Rittenberg: Do you know when you're going to meet with the NCAA, is that going to interrupt your…?
It's on the 13th in Seattle. It's when we'll appear in front of the committee. And normally it would be our first day of two-a-days, but we've adjusted our schedule, so our… I won't miss any arctics. We'll still have two-a-days, they'll just be the next day. I've been fortunate enough to not… we'll keep it from being a distraction, you know I'll have to go and do it. We all at the University have to go, and look forward to meeting with them, and further that process along.
[?] Can you talk a little bit about the outside receiver position. You're stacked at the slot position, but there really hasn't been a home-run threat on the outside. Junior Hemingway's been hurt, Darryl Stonum's been hurt, who's the big home-run threat outside for Michigan this year?
That is one thing we have been looking for. Particularly in this offense, I think there's a misconception about the outside receiver's role. They can have a huge role in this offense. And we hope they have. Darryl Stonum and Junior Hemingway are the two guys we hope to lead that charge. We have some youngguys, some freshman enrolled early we hope can help out, but it startswith Darryl and it starts with Junior. Both of those guys have been in the program, Darryl's got great speed, and if they can give us a deep threat on the outside, we can be a whole lot better offensively.
Snyder: Is Darryl gonna face any extra discipline… from you? Because of, you know, the jail thing.
No, I think he's faced that discipline. And he informed us when it was happening.